Thursday, March 12, 2009

Students Sign On for Wildlife Conservation

Deliver 12,000 Paper Grievances to Gov. Paterson

Students from the Urban Assembly School for Wildlife Conservation and New York City public schools recently presented more than 12,000 petitions, letters of support, and drawings created by children from all five boroughs and Westchester County to representatives at Governor Paterson’s office in Manhattan.

The students visited Paterson's office as the governor has proposed elimination of the $9 million state budget for the Zoos, Botanical Gardens and Aquariums program fund. They spoke about how this funding cut would directly affect their learning, specifically regarding education programs at the Bronx Zoo and New York Aquarium.

To date, more than 70,000 messages, including petitions and emails, have been sent to Albany asking that zoos, botanical gardens and aquariums get the funding they need as they face dwindling private donations and repercussions due to a volatile stock market.

The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) says zoos, botanical gardens and aquariums are integral to our state’s local communities, attracting more than 12 million tourists a year that also help local merchants with revenue.

The Wildlife Conservation Society by the numbers:

•Manages the Bronx Zoo and New York Aquarium (and three other facilities in NYC) accounting for more than four million tourists each year;

•Employs more than 4,000 staff worldwide;

•Pumps more than $414 million into our state’s economy;

•Employs approximately 1,200 seasonal workers at the Bronx Zoo and NY Aquarium each summer (many of whom are retirees, citizens on public assistance, and students);

•Trains 2,000 public school teachers and nearly two million students visit its facilities, including 70,000 who attend formal education programs.

If ZBGA funding is eliminated and state support for WCS along with it, the cultural institution, chartered by the state in 1895, will receive no support from state government.

A press release from the WCS asks all New Yorkers to send a message of support to Albany by going to The Wildlife Conservation Society saves wildlife and wild places worldwide. It does so through science, global conservation, education and the management of the world's largest system of urban wildlife parks, led by the flagship Bronx Zoo. Together these activities change attitudes towards nature and help people imagine wildlife and humans living in harmony. WCS is committed to this mission because it is essential to the integrity of life on Earth.

Photo Credit: Julie Larsen Maher © WCS

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